South Africa African Enterprise
Source: The Library of Congress Country Studies
Africans participated actively in the new industrial economy. Thousands came to Kimberley in the early 1870s, some to obtain diamond claims, the majority to seek jobs in the mines and thereby to acquire the cash that would enable them to rebuild cattle herds depleted by drought, disease, and Boer raids. In the early 1870s, an average of 50,000 men a year migrated to work in the mines, usually for two to three months, returning home with guns purchased in Kimberley, as well as cattle and cash. Many who lived in the area of the diamond finds chose to sell agricultural surpluses, rather than their labor, and to invest their considerable profits in increasing production for the growing urban market. African farmers in British Basutoland (the British protectorate established in Lesotho), the Cape, and Natal also greatly expanded their production of foodstuffs to meet rising demand throughout southern Africa, and out of this development emerged a relatively prosperous peasantry supplying the new towns of the interior as well as the coastal ports. The growth of Kimberley and other towns also provided new economic opportunities for coloureds, many of whom were skilled tradesmen, and for Indians, who, once they had completed their contracts on the sugar plantations, established shops selling goods to African customers.
Data as of May 1996
NOTE: The information regarding South Africa on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of South Africa African Enterprise information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about South Africa African Enterprise should be addressed to the Library of Congress.